Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

Tis the season for a new canoe!

Wow, I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner. Time really does fly! I still haven't packed all my gear away for the season. (no, I don't still have a trip in mind, - sheesh, I'm not that crazy!) From a season of navigating around boulders and trying to find portages, I now have to resort to navigating around throngs of people and trying to find parking! Sigh! I definitely prefer the former!

Despite the craziness of the season, it really is a nice time to connect with family and friends. Just like sitting around that campfire sharing stories, having fun and enjoying the moment. I've already started my rounds of Christmas get togethers and have the big one on the 25th. Just like myself, I hope all of you have a wonderful time this Christmas as you eat and be merry! (btw, just so that you know, calories don't count this time of year! wahoo!!) And of course, if you've been "nice", maybe you'll find a canoe, paddle, trip or even a paddling partner under that tree!!!

I've already got a paddle so far! What about you? The possibility
of a canoe is pretty slim based on the size of the
rest of the gifts! Shucks!
Photo: Lisa Riverin-Thomas

To you and all of your family, friends and loved one, Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas and all the best during the 2009 holiday season!


Friday, December 11, 2009

The Last Trip of 2009

Looking out over Canisbay Lake, which was freezing over

I'm always filled with a bit of sadness (and even despair!) when the paddling season comes to an end. I mean really, who'd want the paddling season to end!?!! (better not hear a squeak!) But reality is that we live in a 4 season country and 3 out of 4 isn't bad. I shouldn't complain but given the choice, I'd be paddling all year long!

Hint: Pack in a small shovel on a canoe trip this time of year
That is, of course if you go!

I've always tended to push the season as far as I could go. Of course I've occasionally run into problems, but what's a trip without a little drama? I also tend to find it easier to accept the finality to the season when I experience snow and ice. Just something about it. Besides, ever paddle when its snowing? Its absolutely gorgeous. I'd definitely recommend it!

It snowed a (cough) wee bit

So with this last 3 day outing in Algonquin, I've accepted my fate. (like I really had a choice?) When the lake freezes in around you, its time to get out, or else you'll be breaking ice (if feasible) or walking out. We didn't do the latter, but we did have to do some of the former. No big deal.

Lisa testing out the other "form" of water

Not surprisingly, our initial plans were changed dramatically by the park staff due to the concern of being iced in. He basically wanted us to have a way to "walk out" if that happened. I understood the risk and saw where he was coming from, but we couldn't see eye to eye on some things. The park staff vs my opinion/experience unfortunately varied widely, but ultimately since he issues the permit, I was at his mercy. However on our drive out, I was a little annoyed when the lakes I wanted to head out on were ice free, - go figure!

I don't know why, but I kind of feel like Hansel and
Gretel leaving a trail of crumbs

Despite the fiasco, Lisa and I still thoroughly enjoyed the trip. We got lots of snow, lots of ice, and really cold temperatures. All the hallmarks to ensure a trip of complete solitude in a typically very busy place. (yes, there was no cars at the put-in or park gate!) Lisa also got to experience her first winter snow/ice paddle and I got to share it with someone who enjoyed it as much as I did! How's that for a great partner! Couldn't have asked for a better way to end an amazing season of paddling! Now to start dreaming, planning and oh yeah, writing too!

Au revoir mon ami le canoe!

Quite simply a gorgeous day for a paddle!
Note: Its not all water!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Minesing Swamp

Heather and I patiently wait at the put-in as the rest
the group shuttle the vehicles

I don't often find myself on paddling day trips. Usually because I tend to compile days off to head out on trips or else use those days to get stuff done around home. However, when Andrea baited me with an offer to go on a day paddle to the Minesing Swamp, I couldn't refuse. I've heard of this paddling local frequently but since I've never been there I was immediately interested. The other benefit was that it was being organized and led by a WCA (Wilderness Canoe Association: member and all I had to do was come along and paddle with Andrea. (pretty tough order, huh?)

This swamp really captivated me with all its colours, textures,
and layers. (yes, it's my "artsy" side! sheesh!)

Minesing Swamp is located just northwest of Barrie and is a vast 6000 hectare wetland. It is classed as a Provincially Significant Wetland and an Area of Natural And Scientific Interest (ANSI) due to its importance in flood control as well as being a haven for endless birds. All I could imagine was this big bird cage atop a massive sponge so I was eager to paddle into the heart of this massive swamp and see it for myself. (wait!, doesn't Shrek live there?!) We put-in at Willow Creek and headed west until we hit the Nottawasaga River where we then paddled north and ended up at Edenvale. It was a mixed group of canoes and kayaks that came out that day. The entire route took approximately 5 hours of leisurely paddle including a stopover for lunch.

Kim quietly paddling her kayak in "stealth mode"
through the swamp

It was a great way to spend the day and I was grateful to Andrea for the invitation as I thoroughly enjoyed the outing. The weather for one thing co-operated as it wasn't too cold and the grey cover soon parted to reveal blue skies. The company was great including Ray our fearless leader and guide who got us through safely and unscathed. Then there was the swamp which was quite amazing. It was mind-boggling to see how big it was with the vast expanse of marsh grass and dead trees providing vertical relief. Despite the size, I still found it beautiful and enchanting. I now understand why this place is so popular to paddle.

Apparently the swamp looks totally different in the spring when it is flooded, (and even more difficult to navigate) so I have already decided to come back then and join Ray & company on yet another day paddling excursion. Now I'm hooked!
Thanks Andrea & Ray for an awesome day!


Exiting the swamp in the last section of the route brought a
change in the shoreline and resulting canopy
(I get a headache looking at this picture!)

PS: The paddling season for all intensive purposes is finished, right? Well,... except I just can't let the season end without one more kick at the can. You got it! I'm heading back out! Details when I get back! Brrrr! Its going to be cold!